Rescue animals being used to combat loneliness in Jersey

Islanders are treated to a different selection of animals at the sessions each month. Credit: ITV Channel

Rescue animals in Jersey have been given a new purpose, by helping islanders combat loneliness.

The JSPCA has been putting on monthly 'Pat and Chat' sessions to help those who may be struggling with their mental health.

Islanders are treated to a different selection of animals each month, varying from cats and dogs, to tortoises and ferrets.

Research has found that spending time with pets can boost 'feel good' hormones and lower blood pressure.

As many older islanders faced increased social isolation as a result of the pandemic, many of those affected have been using these sessions to reconnect with the community.

Jean Burr has been attending the 'Pat and Chat' sessions after the death of her own dog.

  • Jean Burr

She said: "She desperately needed love. I think that that was the sort of thing.

"I live alone, so it's nice being with other people.

"The friendship and being able to pet the animals - that's what I miss.

"It's only once a month, but funnily enough, that month seems to go quite quickly."

Some of those who attend the sessions have told ITV News they still feel the sense of isolation and loneliness, despite restrictions easing.

Maureen Walsh, who attends the sessions, said: "I used to have two cats and when you lose two, it's difficult to get another one.

Maureen Walsh Credit: ITV Channel

"Quite a lot of these people are away from the homes as well. They don't really go out a lot, so it's nice for them to actually interact with everybody as well.

"You can see their faces light up and see the animals. So I think everybody gets a lot from it."

Michelle Parker, Fundraising Manager for the JSPCA said: "Each month, we see some of the same faces come back.

"We've seen people who didn't know each other at first and have come back month on month, and then actually asking, 'oh, is so and so not here this month?', it's really lovely to notice the connections that people are having."

These sessions also have several benefits for the animals' own wellbeing.

Michelle says that the interaction with people is vital to the animals whilst preparing to be rehomed.